• State Minimum-Wage Rates Increase in Oregon and Washington as of January 1, 2011
  • January 3, 2011
  • Law Firm: Miller Nash LLP - Bend Office
  • Effective January 1, 2011, the state minimum-wage rates will increase to $8.67 per hour in Washington and to $8.50 per hour in Oregon. The state minimum-wage rate in Washington was $8.55 per hour in 2009 and 2010; in Oregon, it has been $8.40 per hour since January 1, 2009. Hourly rates for both states are adjusted annually based on cost-of-living increases, as a result of successful referenda in Washington 12 years ago and in Oregon 8 years ago. The cost-of-living increase in Washington is the subject of litigation in Kittitas County Superior Court, where farm, restaurant, and retail groups have alleged that there should be no increase because the cost of living has not increased over the last two years. A small increase from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, did not offset a larger decrease from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

    The 12-cent increase in Washington gives Washington State, once again, the highest minimum wage in the nation. In addition to Oregon and Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California also have state minimum-wage rates at or above $8.00 per hour.

    Congress raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Congress has not adopted any further increase in the federal minimum-wage rate. An employer must comply with the higher of the federal or state minimum-wage rate in the state where its employees work.